This research looks at whether parental imprisonment causes children to develop poor mental health and antisocial behaviour, and whether certain characteristics (of children, prison, parents and wider social and penal settings) have effects on the relationship between the two.
The researchers looked at 16 previous studies which compared children with and without parents in prison, but who had mental health outcomes. The studies chosen were either representative of the general population of children or the population of children of prisoners, so that fair conclusions could be drawn. The findings show that children of prisoners are at twice the risk of poor mental health and antisocial problems and all but one of the studies analysed, showed the increase in such outcomes due to parental imprisonment. The fact that studies often did not control for factors such as parental criminality, previous behaviour of the children, mean that causal relationships are hard to formulate.
See Effects of Parental Imprisonment below: